Learning to Lime
With Chris Brady
How you can avoid becoming an injury statistic and still enjoy being a mobile Brisbanite
A lot has been said recently about the introduction of personal mobility devices such as E-Scooters in Brisbane over the last three months. In particular, comments both anecdotal and documented relate to injuries sustained using these machines. Certainly we have been privy to a large number of visits from injured Brisbanites as have many of the local hospital emergency departments. Here at the Queensland Sports Medicine Centre, we are always encouraging our team and our clients to be active, healthy Queenslanders. We’ve pooled together our tips on how to interact with the new wave of personal transporters.
1. ‘L’ is for Learner.
If you’re new to personal transporters, whether they be E-Scooters, E-Bikes, or E-Skateboards, don’t worry – so are the rest of us. Give the process of learning the respect that it deserves! If you remember back to learning to ride a bike, it didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen! Most kids learn to ride over a period of weeks or months. Unfortunately, once you’ve downloaded the app on a scooter sharing system, you can be traveling at speeds faster than 30km/hr in under a minute.
The data we have suggests that personal transporter injuries are more common in novice riders. Further, injuries are more severe at higher speeds. We would love to see scooter sharing systems invoke a speed staging system which limits the maximum velocity a scooter can travel by an operator who is new to their system. This may involve a ‘Learner’ mode for novice riders until they have travelled over 30km. For most riders, this would take at least five journeys to learn the skills required to be safe at higher speeds. Speed stages already exist on other personal transporters like Queensland’s own Evolve and Black Hawk electric skateboards. They are excellent, and minimise the risk of speed to the novice rider.
While you’re waiting for ‘Lime’ and ‘Bird’ to level up, here are some things to help you to gain skills.
2. Sharing is Caring
Sharing the road has been a catch cry from RACQ’s driving safety program for many years. Exactly the same principles apply to personal transporters. If you’re on an E-Scooter or E-Skateboard, pay attention to the people around you.
The clever people at the Universities call this Situational Awareness. It’s a skill that doesn’t develop until you’re older than 10, so if you’re a parent, seriously consider whether your young one has these skills when you take them bike riding, scootering, or allow them to ride on one of these electric devices.
People you might hurt
- Elderly pedestrians
- Disabled people including the visually impaired
- Young children
- Parents with prams / toddlers
People who might hurt you
- Drivers of trucks
- Drivers of cars, particularly SUVs that are heavier and stop slower
- All corners and intersections. Blind spots have greater risks
- Footpath dining areas – go especially slow here
- Shops and commercial areas. Grease the wheels of your local economy and take it slow here
Remember, 12km/hr is still faster than you can probably run. It’s fast enough to get you where you’re going, and slow enough to give you time to react to the situation.
3. Get Ride Fit
Riding a personal transporter is not as easy as sitting on the train. It requires balance, strength, and skill. For those of you over 25, you probably weren’t blessed to grow up in an era where you owned a scooter as a child, hence this is likely to be a totally new skill for you.
If you’re an old dog, here are some new tricks to learn.
Balancing on a scooter or skateboard will require you to know whether you ride ‘natural’ or ‘goofy’. Naturals ride left foot forward, and goofys ride with their right in front. Neither is better. It’s a personal preference. There are plenty of ways to find out your style here.
Once you know your front leg, start brushing your teeth each day while standing on that leg. Single leg balance will make your scoot more safely and decrease your risk of injury.
Personal transporters aren’t generally blessed with good shock absorption systems. Most of them don’t have pneumatic tyres nor any decent suspension. It’s a good thing you do! Humans are well equipped to absorb shock with their hips, knees, and ankles. To make this system better, and to help save you in a crash, do some simple squats to improve your leg strength.
Some easy examples are in this video from our friends at Aspire Fitness and Rehabilitation.
Unless you’re Tony Hawk, you probably could do with practising your skills on your new daily commute. If you’re new to a scooter, consider hiring one on a weekend, and riding slowly in an area where there is plenty of space. Suncorp stadium forecourt is great for this (when there isn’t a game on!) Riverside drive in West End through to Orleigh park, or any of the terrific bikeways of Brisbane are great options too.
Remember too, Scooters aren’t designed to jump kerbs. Just hop off and carry it up the gutter. It’ll help keep you out of the emergency department.
All in all, we think personal transporters are here to stay. Whether they’re a rental, or an ownership idea, they’ll get cars off the street, people outside, being active, and doing things in a beautiful city. The key to their success will be all of us, from the government to the people, learning how they can be used safely.
Got any ideas? Share them with us!